Marshall's Major II Headphones: What's Old is New Again

While Marshall is best known for its iconic line of black and gold guitar amps, its headphone line also strives to reproduce the rich sound Jim Marshall created over 50 years ago.

The newest addition to Marshall's headphone lineup are the $120 Major II on-ear headphones, which replace the original Majors from 2010. The most important improvement on the Major II's are the new customized drivers which deliver better bass performance and more expressive midtones.

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The Major II's also come with an updated design including a one-button in-line remote with microphone so you can answer calls on your smartphone. One press answers a call, while two taps end it, so you can quickly get back to the music.

You'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom of each earcup, allowing listeners to attach the included double-ended coil cord to whichever side is most comfortable. The headphone jack that's left open doubles as a splitter, so you can share your music with a friend by plugging in a second pair of headphones to the other side.

The look of the Major II's stay true to Marshall's 1960's heritage, with the iconic script on the side of the cups, and the gold lettering on the inside of the padded vinyl headband.

I was able to grab some quiet time with the Major II's away from the noisy CES showfloor. After listening to a wide range of songs, I really appreciated the headphones bass execution. It's a clean neutral sound that recreates low notes, instead of exaggerating them like the audio on some competing cans. The midtones were warm and full-bodied, although I wished I had some vinyl available so I could enjoy the music in its full analog glory.

My only complaint are the Major II's tight fit, which had me rubbing the area behind my temples after about 20 minutes of listening. It's a trade-off for the passive noise cancellation you get from the padded close-eared cups, but less pressure would make the Major II's more comfortable during longer listening sessions.

Marshall's Major II headphones will be available by the end of January on its website and from local retailers both in the US and in over 90 countries. If you're the type of listener that gets excited about vacuum tubes and direct drive turntables, you'll definitely want to take Marshall's new headphones for a spin.

Sam Rutherford is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide. Follow him @SamRutherford on Twitter, and Tom’s Guide on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Sam is a Senior Writer at Engadget and previously worked at Gizmodo as a Senior Reporter. Before that, he worked at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer and Senior Product Review Analyst, overseeing benchmarks and testing for countless product reviews. He was also an archery instructor and a penguin trainer too (really).